For the Love of Beer & Skiing

A stay at the Heliotrope Hotel in Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham is a place I know a thing or two about—after all, I attended college in this Pacific Northwest town—but a lot has changed since I moved from Bellingham to Denver in 2000. For one thing, there are a lot more breweries in town (11 to be exact) and a wonderful new hotel.

Photo: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

The 17-room Heliotrope Hotel opened in spring of 2017 in the beautiful Columbia neighborhood of Bellingham, Washington. The property, formerly the Lions Inn built in the 1950s, did not fit the needs of a modern traveler and didn’t fit into the overall ambiance of the area which is steps away from Elizabeth Park, one of Bellingham’s many charming neighborhood gathering spots.

The Heliotrope is a modern hotel, but in a nod to the property’s history, it has a midcentury flair. We stayed in the Huckleberry room, which features a kitchenette, desk area and a well-appointed bathroom with stunning shower. The hotel's design team included many little things that frequent travelers like myself greatly appreciate, including no-touch lamps, keyless room entry and shelving unit for toiletries.

Photo: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

In addition to the rooms, the “living room” in the lobby provides 24-hour coffee that’s darn good (this is the Pacific Northwest, after all). There’s also a large park-like lawn with a fire pit and yard games. Imagine spending your day on the nearby slopes of Mt. Baker Ski Area and your evening with old and new friends drinking beers around the fire—that’s the type of community the Heliotrope Hotel wants to create for guests.

The location is prime for exploring several local breweries by foot. As mentioned above, Bellingham is home to 11 craft breweries, several within a block or two of the hotel.

Photo: Melvin Brewing

Melvin Brewery, originally founded in Jackson, Wyoming, recently opened Melvin Brewpub in Bellingham and is a five-minute walk from the Heliotrope Hotel. Melvin’s beer is very good, and they’ve got lots of awards to prove it, but interestingly, a lot of the hype surrounding this new brewery is the food. Their menu, which has hints of an Asian influence, is truly delicious.

While Melvin is shiny and new, just a block up the street is a small batch brewery with a more rudimentary feel, which we thoroughly enjoyed. At Menace Brewing it’s all about good beer and good conversation.

Menace is located in a former auto body shop, and the staff is friendly and well-versed on their beers. I highly recommend the award-winning Chili Bravo to put a little spice in your Bellingham beer-drinking experience. This brewery also features a daily food truck.

For the complete lowdown on Bellingham, Washington’s craft beer scene, visit, and when you get to town pick up their awesome brewery guide, which includes a map that we used throughout our three-night stay in town.

Bellingham is snuggled between the Cascade Mountains to the east and Bellingham Bay to the west. It’s truly where the mountains meet the sea. Visitors can kayak with seals and whales in the summer and ski Mt. Baker and enjoy fresh Dungeness crab in the winter. More visitor information can be found at

Categories: The Heidi Guide